Sunday night’s forecast called for a dusting of snow Monday morning, but when it arrived the Truckee Meadows saw more of the white stuff than expected. Snow began falling around 6:00 AM. Traffic throughout the area snarled as a thick blanket settled over streets just before the morning commute.
Washoe County Streets crews had already reported to work, and began plowing as soon as accumulations were noticeable, but the late morning storm caught the school district by surprise. “We’ve got to make a decision by 5:00 AM if we’re going to do anything that departs from the normal scheduled,” said Steve Mulvenon, Washoe County School District Communication Director. When a storm is expected safety supervisors drive the bus routes before 5:00 AM to make sure they are safe, but at that time everything was clear and no one expected the flurries that were about to hit. According to Mulvenon, pulling busses off their routes after they had already been dispatched would have created an even bigger mess.
The school district uses the same National Weather Service information that local forecasters use to anticipate storms. But one element was off in the models used to predict Monday’s snow. In reality there was more moisture in the air than scientists thought. “The models were picking up on a strong cold front, but lacking moisture,” said Chris Larson, KOLO 8 Chief Meteorologist. “We saw a little bit more moisture and the strong front bringing 2 to 3 inches of snow versus snow showers or maybe a dusting.” By 1:00 PM most of the snow had melted off of area roads, leaving few signs of the sudden storm.